Does my cat have ‘capacity’? Assessing my cat under the Mental Capacity Act 2005

Oct 20, 2018 · 3 min read

Capacity for what?

He may have capacity to make decisions about his favourite treats..

And about his favourite leisure activities

But not about vet visits or covert medication hidden in treats (vet’s advice clearly documented of course!)

And of course, capacity changes – so baby cat was presented with closed doors which he wanted to be open (damn the lack of opposable thumbs!)

Adult cat developed a greater sense of place

And so doors (and windows) opened when his capacity to understand risks of outdoors changed (and after he was neutered…..)

And he loves being an indoor/outdoor cat so the pleasure he derives from ‘outdoor’ trumps our anxieties when he wanders for too long

Of course, he may make unwise decisions.. with his balancing..

And his climbing…attempts to swing from bare lightbulbs ( on this one, we did make a quick assessment and followed up with a best interests decision to move the cat tree…)

We have to judge the reasoning and the potential risks and impact of any decisions we might need to make on his behalf.

He’d be sad as a house cat (not all cats are but his past behaviours and personality tell us this)

And he will always hate the vet but when he was injured, he needed to go

But we act on the vet’s advice as well – although ultimately the decisions are ours.

We can’t assume on the basis of his species…despite what learned books say

And while he doesn’t speak human, he can communicate his wants, needs and desires so we have to take that into account

Does he ‘have capacity?’ – well, of course it depends on what we want to look at. Although sometimes I do worry…


Written by

Social worker. Mostly mental health

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade